When life gives you cucumbers - you make pickles!!! I went just a tad overboard on planting cucumbers this year. Last year it was the currant tomatoes, this year it is definitely cucumbers. So far we've made tzatziki, asian cucumbers, quick pickled cucumbers, had cucumbers on our salads and finally given away loads of cucumbers to friends and colleagues. Still we have plenty. But, it's good to have plenty. :-)
My grandmother in Sweden makes two different kinds of pickles every year that are delicious. One is a dill pickle and one is a bread&butter type recipe. This was my next mission with all the cucumbers; make pickles like grandma's!
The dill pickles were made with a brine solution of water, mustard seeds, dill seed, salt and spirit vinegar. We have imported spirit vinegar from Sweden which is a 12% vinegar. I have tried making another batch using american vinegar which is 5% and re-calculating the recipe to get the same % of vinegar acidity and the same amount of liquid. They will be ready in early August and if they turn out - I will post the recipe!
The dill pickles are layered with fresh dill and grape leaves. Grandma uses black currant leaves. They supposedly have an enzyme in them that keeps the pickles from going soft.
The bread and butter pickles are first sliced, layered with dill and mustard seed and then marinated in a vinegar-salt-sugar brine. Yum! Here is the recipe:
Pernilla's Bread & Butter Pickles (adapted)
2.2 lbs small pickling cucumbers
2 tbsp yellow or brown mustard seeds
plenty of dill, preferably dill crowns (flowers) as well
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/4 cups water
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup salt
Wash and slice the cucumbers - discard blossom ends. Place the cucumbers in glass jar(s) layered with the dill and mustard seeds. Mix together the ingredients for the brine until the sugar and salt has dissolved - this brine should NOT be boiled. Pour the brine over the cucumber slices. Marinate for 3 weeks. The jars should be kept in a cool dark place.
I used large glass jars (see below) for the first 4-5 days and weighted down the cucumbers with glass jars filled with water. After 4-5 days, I transferred the cucumbers (plus brine plus extras) to smaller jars and kept them in the fridge until the 3 weeks were up. Mainly because it's so doggone hot down here this time of year and I was afraid they would go bad.
My grandparents (like most older farm houses in Sweden) have an earth cellar and so neither recipe call for the actual process of canning. I ended up test-canning two jars of the dill pickles, and they turned mushy....so for the future, those pickles will be kept in the fridge. We eat them fast anyway!!! :-)
Sorry for not blogging a lot lately, but work and life has been hectic. Our garden is keeping us busy and soon I will have some posts on that. Sean and I had some overdue vacation time in New Mexico with his family as well, and I will post some pictures soon.
Hope your gardens are boutiful as well!